By cook or by book
Deepa Awchat launches the first restaurant cookbook in Mumbai.. in conversation with Rochelle Pinto.books Updated: Jan 15, 2009 19:31 IST
If you’ve ever tried the Sorpotel or the Tissryo Masala at Mahim’s Goa Portuguesa, you’d know you’ve entered culinary heaven.
And now co-owner and chef Deepa Awchat is looking to let you in on the secret behind her authentic Goan cuisine through her book The Goa Portuguesa Cookbook.
20 years of cooking
The former customs officer left her job to join her husband Suhas Awchat in the kitchen. The Awchats celebrate the 20th birthday of the restaurant with the launch of the book.
Being the driving force behind the menu selection at the restaurant, Deepa Awchat is a keen innovator and always has recipes on her mind.
“Over the years, I’ve had many locals and foreigners asking me to quickly jot down my recipes because they are smitten by the taste,” She explains. “That was the main reason for writing this book.”
She elaborates, “Even though these recipes have been tried and tested thousands of times in my restaurant, I needed to change the proportion to suit a homestead. And I couldn’t trust anybody else to do my research for me.”
Awchat hopes that the book will dispel myths surrounding the coastal cuisine that it is dominated by non-vegetarian dishes.
She has made a conscious effort to ensure that of the 118 recipes in the book, 62 are vegetarian.
“Outside of a Goan Hindu home, it’s very difficult to get hold of authentic vegetarian dishes. I’m hoping to change that,” she says. The book contains information on traditional soups, salads, main courses and desserts, and a touch of Awchat’s creativity. “I’ve even included some of my own recipes that will not be found anywhere else,” she smiles.
Despite naysayers predicting that the book will be used to set up rival restaurants, the chef is not perturbed. “I say the more, the merrier,” she laughs. “I’ve written this book to allow people to recreate the original Goa-Portuguesa tastes in their homes. But if more restaurants open, it will only help spread the love for our cuisine.”
Next on her agenda is a book of traditional Maharashtrian recipes. “When I was setting up Diva Maharashtracha, There were no books on traditional dishes. I had to spend time in travelling to different regions to decipher the different cuisines,” she recalls.
And Awchat concludes, “I don’t want anyone else to go through all that time and trouble. Besides, there’s so much for the palate that even city dwellers don’t know of.”